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Pharmacy owner pleads guilty to participating in steroid and hormone trafficking ring

| Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, 12:53 p.m.

A pharmacy owner and one of his employees pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to participating in an interstate steroid and hormone trafficking ring that included a former doctor for the Steelers, who has been charged.

William Sadowski, 46, of McKees Rocks and John Gavin, 51, of Valencia each pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.

Sadowski was president and co-owner of ANEWrx, which is licensed in 45 states. Sadowski acknowledged paying commissions to Dr. Richard Rydze, 62, of the Strip District when Rydze's patients filled prescriptions for anabolic steroids, human growth hormones and related products.

“I am guilty,” he told U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill.

Sadowski and his attorney, Tina Miller, declined comment after the hearing. He remains free on $25,000 bond. Cohill scheduled his sentencing for Feb. 26.

The agreement between Sadowski and Rydze ran from 2007 until 2011, prosecutors say.

The Steelers employed Rydze on the team's medical staff for 22 years until 2007, when investigators questioned him about his use of a personal credit card to buy about $150,000 worth of human growth hormones and testosterone from a Florida pharmacy.

He faces 185 charges of health care fraud and trafficking in anabolic steroids, human growth hormones and painkillers.

Rydze provided medical exams for the FBI's Pittsburgh field office, so FBI agents and prosecutors from Cleveland are handling the investigation and prosecution of the ring.

Plea agreements typically require defendants to testify in related criminal prosecutions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Kall would not say whether Sadowski and Gavin will testify against Rydze or whether the investigation targets current or former Steelers.

Gavin, a registered nurse who started working for Sadowski in 2010, pleaded guilty to helping Sadowski research criminal prosecutions of steroids trafficking and advised clients on how to use the drugs.

When Cohill asked him why he was pleading guilty, Gavin said: “I just wanted to do things right.”

As part of the conspiracy, Sadowski jacked up prices on Rydze's patients and paid him the difference between what they paid and his usual price, prosecutors said. That amounted to at least $301,000 for Rydze between 2007 and 2011, prosecutors say.

Sadowski had a similar arrangement with a doctor in Florida who operated three clinics and accounted for about 40 percent of the pharmacy's business, Kall said.

He picked up the accounts of about 20 doctors from a pharmacist in Alabama when the government indicted that pharmacist for steroid trafficking, Kall said. As part of the deal, Sadowski paid the other pharmacist a commission on prescriptions those doctors sent him, Kall said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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